Tracy Brabin: 'Coronavirus lessons must be learned now to get us through coming weeks and months'

Labour’s candidate to be West Yorkshire mayor has said an immediate review into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is needed to make sure lessons are learned ‘sooner rather than later.’

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin was echoing calls made by the Labour Party yesterday.

Labour claimed a number of mistakes have been made during the response and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves told the Sunday Mirror a high-profile review must be held before the Prime Minister releases his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22.

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She said: “If we’d had one last summer we would not be in the terrible place we are today.”

Labour's candidate for West Yorkshire mayor, Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin. Photo: PA

It comes after campaign group of more than 2,000 families who had lost loved ones to the virus told The Yorkshire Post on Saturday that a rapid review would take just a matter of weeks, while a full public inquiry could be held at a later date.

Boris Johnson has so far resisted announcing a date for any inquiry, although he promised one would be held, as he said it would take away from the effort to tackle the pandemic.

Ms Brabin said: “West Yorkshire’s councils have stepped in and led where the government has failed but that isn’t enough – the Government owes it to the thousands who have died and the thousands now suffering to learn from the mistakes made.

“There will be a public inquiry in due course but the immediate priority must be learning the lessons to better prepare us for the coming weeks and months.

“That means equipping our NHS to cope with the demands it faces; ensuring people have more security at work; and making sure no more money is wasted on government contracts that fail to deliver.

“These are all areas where the government has made serious mistakes and have to be addressed urgently. An immediate review, sooner rather than later and published alongside the Government’s roadmap for lifting lockdowns, is a must if we’re going to keep people safe and protect our NHS.”

Ms Reeves said support for the NHS, PPE shortages, and the awarding of contracts should all be covered by the review.

On Friday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has said that there will be time for reflection as we go forward but he doesn’t believe now is the right time for that given the fact that we continue to see high rates of infection across the country and the pressures the NHS face. That’s why the Prime Minister’s focus remains on doing everything we can to tackle the virus.”

Asked about the push for a rapid review, he added: “We do continue to learn the lessons and have better understanding of the virus. It remains the case that we are continuing to test - and we have one of the best genomic sequencing programmes in the world - so we continue to learn about treatments.”

He added: “We continue to learn about the virus and we continue to take action where we think we need to in order to reduce the transmission.”

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday Mr Johnson insisted it was not yet time for an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic “when we are in the throes of fighting this wave of the new variant, when 37,000 people are struggling with Covid in our hospitals”.

Facing questions from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Mr Johnson said to “consecrate the energies and efforts of officialdom” to launch an official probe would take away from efforts of tackling the immediate threat, but he said there would be a time for lessons to be learned and previously committed to an independent review.